Fan Service in Anime from the American Feminist Perspective

I can’t be the only one tired of the gratuitous fan service in anime. Even the shows with good plot unnecessarily showcase objectified women. For instance, Bleach started as a PG 13 shonen series focused on one teenager’s struggle to protect his friends and the powers he develops along the way. It’s great stuff, and I always really liked it despite the eventual change in female character design. Only Rukia, arguably the leading woman of the show, has semi realistic proportion sizes. Excluding her giant anime eyes of course.

I feel like the industry is pressuring mangakas to create uninspiring, hyper-sexualized, fan service driven characters, in a vain attempt to attract a male audience. I think if they focused on releasing good content instead of click bait, a form of media that has no purpose other than to get your attention, then they would expand their audience exponentially. Women love anime. I can definitely attest to that. But some of these series that are being released are simply unwatchable. The anime industry market is losing half the world’s population in viewers, women. Do any of you other ladies otakus out there find the explicitly sexual fanservice in shows like Keijo!!! or Love Hina to be off putting? Are we just expected to suck it up and let some of our favorite shows get turned into objectifying mush?

One Piece used to be my favorite manga. I liked the show too, but the manga is really what captured my heart. In the beginning of the series the women came in all shapes and sizes. The first villian is actually a rude obese woman. It’s amusing to see women represented visually as having varying personalities. Unfortunately, and I think because of pressure from the industry, One Piece is now just another shonen series that has lost it’s thunder. The overall animation quality is suffering, and it seems the now constant objectification of female characters is just a desperate attempt to keep their audience’s attention. Even Nami has gone from being a kick ass thief, only out to make money, who wore a trademark white striped t shirt; into a crying, long haired, archetypal hot anime babe in a bikini top. I think this treatment is unjust.

We women, or at least this American feminist, want to see female characters they can relate to, or at least are understandably caricatured (not just their boobs are giant) in a way that represents personality, not sex appeal.

  • I wouldn't underestimate the extent to which large breasts are played for comedy in anime (tired and uninspired, but comedy all the same). Additionally, some fanservice that objectifies women plays into different fetishes (for lack of a better term) such as the 'schoolgirl' stereotype. I'd say the fanservice is more of a larger indication of Japan's form of feminism (antiquated/underdeveloped)-that they tend to fall back on such tropes in laziness, rather than in overt sexism. Hmm...that was poorly phrased but I'm not sure how else to put it. It's like, the extent to which huge boobs occur in anime renders them practically meaningless and somewhat obligatory? It doesn't seem like the trope has any meaning outside of stupid comedy. I dunno'.... This topic feels all over the place, what are you actually trying to say? Of course they'd do better if they focused more on quality content, but that has nothing to do with the sexualization (some quality anime, unfortunately, often still exhibit the trope), and clearly big boobs sell...Yes it's off-putting, but then support better anime? There are plenty that are free from the trend. Then you say that we as viewers want to see better/more realistic female characters, but that doesn't really ring as a unique argument with regards to anime; I want realistic characters in all mediums (and frankly, I subscribe to the objectify everyone argument, because if we completely lose the huge boobs, we'll also suffer the loss of gratuitous abs, a personal weakness). With regards to your One Piece comment, though I haven't seen the show, I'd say the first villain being an obese woman while the main red-haired chick is skinny/fit is far from a feminist victory (obese = bad...?). That's a really strange comment that seems like it fits into a completely different school of feminism (female villains = equality) from what you're advocating for here (lack of objectification/body positivity). That's my personal/debate-y response, see revision for a more topic-based response. – m-cubed 6 years ago

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